Game of the week

Charles “Chip” Pashayan was an undistinguished Republican Congressman from California from 1979 to 1991. I say undistinguished because his Wikipedia page says almost nothing about him and all that the Almanac of American Politics could say was “On most issues Pashayan votes as you would expect a Republican from Ronald Reagan’s home state to vote. But his greatest energy is probably served for local matters.” (1984 and 1986 editions). He was a far-right conservative of the species now extinct in California whose other members included Bob Dornan and William Dannemeyer. It may seem unfair to compare him to loons like Dornan and Dannemeyer but his pet project was trying to the get the US government to recognize Bobby Fischer as the sole legitimate world champion.

I interviewed him in his office in 1987 for Chess Horizons. He told me about his “pet project” (a staff member told me that he did it without staff help). H.J.Res.545 – “A joint resolution recognizing Bobby Fisher as the official World Chess Champion.” It passed the House by voice vote (evidently no one cared or they were confident that it would die in the Senate). Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) blocked the resolution in the Senate Judiciary Committee, ostensibly because the Senate’s rules on commemoratives prohibit commemorating a living person but I suspect that he also had no desire to celebrate an anti-Semitic madman even if he was arguably the world’s greatest chess champion who had been robbed of his title by Soviet apparatchiks. Pashayan also later acted as a pro-bono lawyer for Fischer when he got into trouble for violating US sanctions against Serbia.

Whatever one thinks of Pashayan’s views on Fischer or his politics, he was an avid supporter of chess who was knowledgeable and opinionated about its politics. He railed against FIDE and strongly criticized the USCF for sending a team to the 1986 Olympiad in Dubai, urging a boycott because Israel was barred from participating. He also seems to have been a fairly good player as this week’s game shows. In an offhand game, he puts up a very decent fight against the legendary Viktor Korchnoi. The game contains some nice tactics.

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